We are now entering the festive season – a season of joy, family gatherings, excellent food…and STRESS! With lots going on, including parties, an excess of food, family squabbles, trying to make everybody happy, shopping until you drop, playing Santa, stress mounts quickly during this time of year.
Stress can have a negative effect on your overall health and well-being. When you are stressed you may experience headaches, back and neck pain, frequent colds and flu, problems digesting your food, trouble sleeping, and depression and anxiety. Don’t let this happen to you this holiday season.
You may not be able to eliminate all the stress this season brings, but you can take better care of yourself. It all begins with putting the right food into your body. Yes, there will be treats to sample, but don’t make it a part of every meal.
Some simple rules to follow are:
Make sure you begin your day with a good protein-based breakfast such as an omelette, a protein smoothie, or Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts. A nutrient-dense breakfast will provide you with energy, keep you fuller longer, and hopefully help you make better food choices for the rest of the day.
Build the rest of your meals around fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, and lean cuts of meat.
By eating at regular intervals (every 3 to 4 hours) you will be giving your body a constant flow of nutrients which will nourish your stressed-out body, and will help keep you away from the Christmas cookies.
Don’t forget to drink water. When you are stressed, your heart rate is elevated and you breathe harder. This is dehydrating. Make sure you carry a water bottle around with you as a reminder to hydrate yourself. The recommended daily intake is 8 glasses of water.
Here is some additional advice to help nourish you in times of stress. The following foods actually help reduce stress.
Foods that help reduce stress
Now let’s examine foods that will actually raise your stress levels. Try to avoid over-consuming the following foods.
Foods that aggravate stress
By eating a nutritious and balanced diet, you will be better equipped to deal with stress this holiday season. This should be a time for family and friends to enjoy one another’s company and share good food and great times together.
Focus on good nutrition to help you stay stress-free this Christmas, and remember the reason for the season!
*These teachings and more can be found in chapter 7 (Stress Management) of my book Healthy Body for Life.
Here is a lovely recipe which will make a very colourful and nutritious addition to your Christmas meal! Apple Quinoa Salad
Quinoa contains many of the stress-reducing nutrients mentioned earlier in this article.